STRAYS

Strays, Ed Kavanagh's first work of fiction since the award-winning novel The Confessions of Nipper Mooney, features ten memorable stories that explore the lives of those who somehow find themselves adrift. The cast of characters ranges from the very young to the very old. In "The Red Merc" a boy learns deep truths about his often absent father; in "Wind" a Newfoundland student in a big Canadian city struggles with issues of identity; and in "The Strayaway Child" a ninety-year-old woman recalls her childhood during the Great Depression when she was a "sad, silent little nobody." Affecting, humorous, and finely crafted, Strays speaks, ultimately, to our desire to belong.

Ed's new book of short stories, Strays, was released on November 3, 2013.

Strays


Ed is thrilled to announce that Strays has been shortlisted for the $25,000 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, one of the East Coast Literary Awards sponsored by the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia. Congratulations to the other shortlisted authors: Shashi Bhat and William Kowalski.
See full text by the judges of the NL Book Awards for Strays below.

Strays, a collection of ten short stories, is Ed Kavanagh's first work of fiction since 2002's award- winning novel The Confessions of Nipper Mooney, and it's clear that these stories are the product of many years' loving craftsmanship. Kavanagh's prose is beautiful and lucid without calling undue attention to itself; he writes with a clarity that lets character and setting shine through the words.

The title story, about a child bounced from one foster home to another who becomes obsessed with another child's dog, sets the tone for the whole collection. Kavanagh's characters inhabit the marginal edges of Newfoundland communities past and present: a petty criminal led astray by an even pettier one; a young man described by the story's narrator as "foolish and not right in the head"; a young outport woman experiencing her first taste of life at a mainland university. Stray people are as prevalent as stray dogs in these stories; the title re-echoes in the collection's longest piece, "The Strayaway Child," which powerfully evokes a lonely Depression-era childhood. Moments of compassion and unexpected connection transform these characters and make them linger in the reader's memory long after the book is finished.

Strays, was also one of three finalists for the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for Fiction, sponsored by the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador (press release). Congratulations to the other finalist, Russell Wangersky, and winner, Lisa Moore.

What the New Glasgow Evening News said about The Confessions of Nipper Mooney applies equally to Strays: "Kavanagh writes beautifully . . . poignantly illustrating how experience shapes character . . . The lyrical cadence of the writing is reminiscent of Alistair MacLeod, making it a book that begs to be read aloud."

An excerpt from the judges' comments on Strays follows (2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for Fiction).

Strays, by Ed Kavanagh … is a collection of ten short stories… Kavanagh's characters inhabit the marginal edges of Newfoundland communities past and present… Kavanagh's prose is beautiful and lucid without calling undue attention to itself; he writes with a clarity that lets character and setting shine through the words.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

The Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award was first presented in 1991. Established with an endowment by Thomas Head Raddall himself, and with ongoing support from the Raddall family, this award honours the work of fiction writers in the Atlantic region and, as the original benefactor envisioned, provides "the gift of time and peace of mind" so essential to the creation of new work.

The East Coast Literary Awards celebrate and promote excellence in writing from Atlantic Canada. The number of titles submitted each year are a testament to the diversity and quality of writing from all four Atlantic provinces. And although jurors have the unenviable task of selecting one winner for each Award, each year's shortlists introduce local, national, and international readers to a tremendous body of work and the vibrant culture of the region. Winners will be announced at the East Coast Literary Awards presentation in Halifax on September 20, following a series of public events and readings celebrating the shortlisted writers. See more here.

Reviews

“The music of Ed Kavanagh’s prose lights his characters from within, lending them a lasting resonance. Strays is a great book, a book to be treasured.”
Newfoundland and Labrador Studies

“In Ed Kavanagh’s Strays, readers are treated to a rare breed of storyteller—a  natural, one who spins yarns as effortlessly as he breathes. These stories feature a striking variety of characters who invite you inside their minds, only to provoke you with their outcast laments as they grasp for meaning and a place to call home. They start with the easy familiarity of an old friend, enchant throughout, and like an aged Scotch they finish with a soft burn.”

Jurors’ Comments, Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

“‘The Red Merc’ and ‘Children Green and Golden’ are particular standouts . . . Both of these stories run only 11 pages but are full of grit and snap.”
The Telegram

“Strays, a collection of ten short stories, is Ed Kavanagh’s first work of fiction since 2001’s award-winning novel The Confessions of Nipper Mooney, and it’s clear that these stories are the product of many years’ loving craftsmanship. Kavanagh’s prose is beautiful and lucid without calling undue attention to itself; he writes with a clarity that lets character and setting shine through the words.
       The title story, about a child bounced from one foster home to another who becomes obsessed with another child’s dog, sets the tone for the whole collection. Kavanagh’s characters inhabit the marginal edges of Newfoundland communities past and present: a petty criminal led astray by an even pettier one; a young man described by the story’s narrator as “foolish and not right in the head”; a young outport woman experiencing her first taste of life at a mainland university. Stray people are as prevalent as stray dogs in these stories; the title re-echoes in the collection’s longest piece, The Strayaway Child,’ which powerfully evokes a lonely Depression-era childhood. Moments of compassion and unexpected connection transform these characters and make them linger in the reader’s memory long after the book is finished.”
Jurors’ Comments, Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards

“Kavanagh is masterful at evoking the effects of passing time and lost opportunity on the lives of his characters . . . The author’s unadorned prose, which frequently mimics a distinctive Newfoundland vernacular, is perfectly suited to these tales of quotidian struggle and sacrifice.”
The Fiddlehead

“The longest piece in the collection, ‘The Strayaway Child,’ is the only one not set in the present or recent past, and it draws such an evocative picture of a threadbare childhood in Depression-era Newfoundland that I wished this one were a novel — it would probably be one of my favourite novels of the year. But as a short story collection, this is a book not to be missed.”
Trudy Morgan-Cole, Compulsive Overreader

“Kavanagh writes beautifully . . .The characters are sketched deftly, with sometimes just a delightful detail . . . Whoever and wherever Kavanagh’s characters are, they are people you have met in situations you have either been in or easily could be in. They are likely to stick with you for some time after you have put the book aside.”
The Northeast Avalon Times

“. . . Ed Kavanagh deserves the accolades named above [finalist for The Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and the NL Book Award for Fiction]. Simple and direct never was more sophisticated. Strays is a collection that resonates not for its Newfoundlandia but for the truthfulness of its magnanimity. Kavanagh's stories, each of them, are suffused with an open-heartedness that has the depth of a lived philosophy. If Socrates told campfire stories, they would resemble Ed Kavanagh stories.”
The Antigonish Review



Ed Kavanagh, 18 Parsons Avenue, Mount Pearl, NL, Canada A1N 1P6    Phone: 709-364-6386   email